Talk:J. M. Coetzee

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Name[edit]

There is a ton of confusion out there about Coetzee's given second name. Most sources, though, say that he was born John Michael Coetzee and, later in life, changed it to John Maxwell Coetzee. Has he ever given a definitive statement about this? And shouldn't this be in the article? j.s.f. (talk) 17:34, 9 October 2008 (UTC)

Seems to be the case. Should add a mention of that, with a request for citation if you can't find a definitive one. Greenman (talk) 20:36, 9 October 2008 (UTC)

An anon changed his birth name to "John Michael"[1] but I changed it back[2] after assuming that Encarta is a reliable source. I can't find any sources that refute it. —LOL T/C 05:46, 9 July 2009 (UTC)

Alot of confusion reigns over J.M. Coetzee's second name, the 'M'. Is it Michael, or is it Maxwell? Ask him; the press (media) should do it: after all, isn't it there job to enlighten us with information, especially on someone who has won a Nobel Prize for our country through his literature? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 41.240.95.156 (talk) 08:55, 7 May 2010 (UTC)

Old comments[edit]

named laureate of the Nobel Prize in Literature for 2003, the fourth African to be so honoured.

Is he really an ethnic African ?
Depends what you mean by that. He was born in Africa, and his parents quite possibly were too. However, he is ethnically of quite recent immigration to Africa (i.e. the past few centuries). On the other hand, where to draw the dividing line is a judgment call. Are Slavic peoples ethnically European? They are from Europe, but their ancestors immigrated there only a dozen or so centuries ago. --Delirium 05:04, Apr 13, 2004 (UTC)

A bit longer than a dozen centuries ago, as the fact that much of present day Eastern Germany was occupied by Slavs before the formation of the the Central European states can atest (likewise, Europe spans from the Atlantic to the Urals, and Slavs were certainly within these bounds, originating as Slavs in Central/East Central Europe (the exact stop is debatable). Ethnicity is a bogus concept anyway. But since we're on the topic, there was an interesting article about Coetzee today. He is vising Poland soon since apparently his great grandfather emigrated from Poland to South Africa in his late teens or something like that. --~~

I thought it was pronounced "coet-zee-uh"?

Wh

What about including pronunciation of the name in IPA or SAMPA? I thought the oe was like English oo (food) rather than u/oo (foot)...? Wathiik 11:36, 18 December 2005 (UTC)

Should there be a mention about his animal rights views? It's one of the themes in his work, there are some quotes concerning them, etc.

What is Coetzee's mother tongue? I assume either English or Afrikaans.. Which does he write in?

Pronunciation of name[edit]

An older revision says "kut-SEE", the latest one says "kut-SAY-uh". So which one is it? Skinnyweed 23:36, 22 February 2006 (UTC)

It's "kut-see(r)", rhymes with 'puts ear'. 'kut-SAY-uh' sounds like something from Lethal Weapon 2, a high water mark in the mangling of South African pronunciation.

I have changed the pronouncation to küt-ZĒ, per the US Library of Congress's Pronunciation Guide to the Names of Public Figures [3] and the way that it is pronounced in the introduction to his Nobel lecture [4]. This is also how it is listed in the Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia [5]. Yinon 08:52, 11 April 2006 (UTC)


On the subject of Coetzee's status as an African: J.M. Coetzee is a REAL African just as black Britons are real Britons and real Europeans. White Africans are very proud of and attached to their Africanness and have not had strong links with Europe for centuries. They would regard it as extremely racist if someone were to question their status as Africans- take it from white African!--100%RSA 23:33, 6 October 2006 (UTC)



Pronounciation of the name: In South Africa Coetzee's surname is pronounced KOO-TZEE-UH. (I should know, since I am South African.) I wouldn't put credence in the pronounciation of some Swedes since they cannot claim to be arbiters of how South African should pronounce their names. Dakno 11:19, 16 July 2007 (UTC)

Dakno is quite correct here and in the elaboration further on. There seems to be a lot of confusion over what is actually a very simple matter and I suspect a lot of discussion here is by people who aren't entirely familiar with Afrikaans surnames and the way they are pronounced (by both Afrikaans native-speakers and those South Africans for whom Afrikaans is not the native tongue). There is a fairly common Afrikaans familial name Coetzee. It is pronounced as Dakno transcibes and as the (sort-of) IPA gives. I have deleted the "alternative" IPA pronunciation given, as it applies to one of the other common Afrikaans familial names (Coertze, Kotze and there are variants) and not to Coetzee, which always has that rounded diphthongal ending.Brockle (talk) 14:00, 17 June 2009 (UTC)


Seems to me that the transcription is not real IPA... It looks more like a mix out of IPA and other systems. I'm quite sure that the <-ee> is pronounced something like (SAMPA) [i@], as in Afrikaans, I'm not sure about the <-tz->. Some people claim that it's pronounced like /tS/ (English <ch>), but to me it looks more like /ts/. The German wiki site transcribes the name as [kuˈt͜sɪə], I'm not sure what the <?> is supposed to mean (a glottal stop?), but apart from that it looks much better than the transcription on this site. Can anyone help and solve the 'mystery'? Wathiik 11:35, 13 September 2007 (UTC)


I was just listening to a sound file - http://core.ecu.edu/engl/whisnantl/4300/coetzee.htm - and it looks like there are two pronunciations, namely something like [ku'tSei@] and something like [k@'tsi(:)@]... Wathiik 11:48, 13 September 2007 (UTC)

Wathiik says my transcription "is not real IPA." Of course, it is not IPA. Whoever said it was? It is a plain, child's English transcription of the Afrikaans pronounciation of the name. "Koo" as in "cooler"; "ts" as in "tsetese"; "ee-uh" as in "year" (without the "r"). That is how the name is pronounced in South Africa. Coetzee is a relatively common surname in South Africa. Even though Coetzee is not a real Afrikaner--at most he is an Anglo-Afrikaner or a bloedsappe--his surname is always pronounced the way it is in Afrikaans. There is no need to Americanize his name or to transform him into some weird Teutonic freak. I do not mean to be arrogant, but some people do know better.

Dakno 17:47, 18 September 2007 (UTC)


I was talking about this transcription here, which is (still) included on the site: (IPA: ['kutsé:]) Wathiik 15:31, 21 September 2007 (UTC)


btw... what about the pronunciation with an English 'ch' in it? Is that an anglicized pronunciation? Wathiik 15:38, 21 September 2007 (UTC)

This BBC article makes it clear how he pronounces his own name (kuut-SEE). Cordless Larry (talk) 11:12, 1 October 2009 (UTC)
I agree that how the person pronounces his own name is what matters most in this article, not how it would be pronounced by a typical Afrikaner living in some particular location in South Africa, or by anybody else living anywhere else. And I think the BBC would be a more reliable source than some individual who claimed to have heard the author say his name somewhere. The referenced BBC page gives very convincing evidence in support of the pronounciation they recommend, including (they say) a written document from Coetzee himself specifying how he wants his name pronounced.
The problem is that the IPA as currently given here (Afrikaans pronunciation: [kutˈseː]) does not match the BBC's "kuut-SEE" (the "uu" sounding like the "oo" in book), so it's wrong to give that BBC reference in support of that IPA pronunciation. [kutˈseː] would be transcribed into child-speak (in the US anyway) as "coot-SAY" (pronouncing the first syllable like the bird or like the first syllable in cootie). A better IPA transcription of the BBC pronunciation would be [kʊtˈsiː].
Although I'm reluctant to jump into the middle of this issue, I'm going to change the IPA so it at least matches the BBC reference attached to it. I'm also going to change the link to the IPA subset for English rather than Dutch, since [ʊ] evidently doesn't occur in Dutch phonology. Besides, Coetzee writes primarily in English, evidently speaks primarily English (since he chooses to live in Australia), and this is the Wikipedia for speakers of English, not Dutch or Afrikaans.--Jim10701 (talk) 15:50, 7 October 2009 (UTC)
Thanks. When I added the BBC reference, I didn't change the IPA because, to my non-expert eyes, it looked right as it was. I'm glad you've corrected it though. Cordless Larry (talk) 07:58, 8 October 2009 (UTC)

May I please mention that Coetzee himself uses the monophthong in the pronunciation of his name? He says it like "kuut-zee," with "kuut" rhyming with "foot." tylerweston 16:05 PM EST, 6 March, 2012 —Preceding undated comment added 21:03, 6 March 2012 (UTC).

No he doesn't! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kd7rc_vxiRk Paxsimius (talk) 15:49, 31 January 2013 (UTC)

Nobel Prize section[edit]

Do we really need an entire subheading containing a few short sentences saying he won the Nobel? And the Personal section also. Skinnyweed 02:20, 2 April 2006 (UTC)

Nope. I've integrated them into the main body. (Which, oddly, contains almost no mention of his fiction. Something I'll try and put right.) Barbara Osgood 22:26, 27 May 2006 (UTC)

Template spelling mistake - autobiographical[edit]

Spells 'autobiographical' wrong. Skinnyweed 21:44, 20 April 2006 (UTC)

Fixed Yinon 00:56, 21 April 2006 (UTC)

Fiction?[edit]

Should Boyhood and Youth be under fiction? They are autobiographical recollections of his real life experiences but there are elements of fiction in terms of distance and narrative voice. On the other hand, don't all writers take certain liberties when writing their autobiography? But don't they also rely on personal experience in their fiction? AshcroftIleum 19:26, 11 June 2006 (UTC)

Perhaps make a section Autobiographical like the template. Skinnyweed 19:40, 11 June 2006 (UTC)
They are fictionalised biography. In the essay on autobiography in Doubling the Point Coetzee specifically (if playfully) describes this genre as autrebiography. They are novels about John Coetzee - a character overlapping but distinct from John Coetzee the man who is distinct again from J.M. Coetzee the writer. In the same way Elizabeth Costello in Slow Man and the eponymous hero of the previous novel are overlapping but not necessarily concomitant charecters. As such, they should either be renamed as "fictionalised biography" or incorporated into fiction, in my opinion. EdwardMackay 12:16, 22 February 2007 (UTC)

Afrikaner category[edit]

Removed this category as his first language is English [6], [7] and apparently speaking Afrikaans as a first language (along with being of "european ancestry") is one of the few cireteria for classifiying someone as in this contested category. --Deon Steyn 09:25, 21 September 2006 (UTC)

Yes, according to "Boyhood" (part-fictionalised?) he was in the English-speaking section of the school and bullied by the Boer boys; and was afraid that Dr Malan's inspectors would say that as he had an Afrikaans surname he had to go in the Afrikaans-speaking class. Both his parents were part-Afrikaans not Afrikaans. Hugo999 (talk) 23:44, 23 July 2009 (UTC)

Modernism[edit]

What is the thinking behind designating Coetzee a modernist in the box at the top? He evidently inherits very strongly from modernism, particularly Beckett, but is he (can he be) a modernist at his stage of history? Postmodernist and postcolonialist offer other problems, but modernism can't be right? EdwardMackay 12:17, 22 February 2007 (UTC)

Although Beckett was a friend of James Joyce (a modernist), Beckett's works were post-modernist not modernist. --Cazo3788 06:33, 26 September 2007 (UTC)

Beckett is usually considered the last modernist, and I would argue that even in his late style he remains a modernist. Coetzee exists in a certain timelessness, in a sense writing as a footnote to Beckett and Kafka in his early work, and now displaying more of a debt to the 18th century. Postmodernism seems a useless term in any case because of the difficulty of designating an end to so-called modernism. I would call Coetzee a new-modernist. -FM (talk) 01:10, 2 June 2009 (UTC)FM

Polish origin[edit]

The source- http://www.eduskrypt.pl/na_polski_trop_naprowadzil_go_pradziad-info-1801.html is in Polish only. The news is from Polish Press Agency (PAP) info service (PAP - Nauka w Polsce). Kowalmistrz 19:18, 30 July 2007 (UTC)

Thanks. I've added the reference. Would it be possible for you to check that the text in the article attributed to the reference is correct? Cordless Larry (talk) 16:01, 2 August 2009 (UTC)
In Boyhood he speaks of some of his relatives coming from Pomerania, but apparently being of German, not Polish extraction. --187.113.228.45 (talk) 04:59, 25 May 2010 (UTC)
Yes, and a rough translation of the Polish reference suggests that the story about Polish relatives may have proved to be false. I'm going to remove it. Cordless Larry (talk) 21:10, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
I'm sorry, but where the Polish-language reference I've linked suggests his Polish origin may be false? I think also that what Coetzee wrote in "Boyhood" should not be a reference for us, becuase although we can in some way identify the book's main character with Coetzee himself, we can't do it unquestionable. Come on, it's just a book - a form of literary creation. What Coetzee wrote in Boyhood can't be treat as a reference about his origins, but the article I've linked you here (and I can find dozens of another reliable ones) is unqestionable for its authenticity (is not a fiction and can't be undermined, but the Boyhood's sentence surely can be). Additionally, the question of the demographic and social history of Poland and its lands and peoples is very complexed (see History of Poland and the Polish people) and indentifying and naming those people's ethnicity by today's customs is not right. In Pomerania during the times Baltazar Dubiel was born, there was formally no Poland as a state because it was occupied by Prussia. But the land was historically Polish since ever and was originally inhabited by the Polish people, descendants of mixed Slavic and German tribes. The Germans and Jews and some other minorities lived there also since ever, especially during the Prussian partitions, Germans and Germanised Polish people made up a significant minority. So, the people had not only mixed ethnic origins but also ethnic and cultural identities and were partially Polish and partially German or Prussian. In case of their immigration, the country from what they were coming, in that case was Prussia or the German Empire, was that what was written in the official country of departue's books and registries. All the people of Pomerania, Polish-speaking and identifying themselves Poles, German-speaking Poles, Polish-speaking Germans, German-speaking Polish Jews, Polish-speaking Jews, Lutherans, Catholics, etc., were counted as Prussian or German. Kowalmistrz (talk) 12:17, 20 March 2011 (UTC)
I agree that Boyhood is not a good source for this. When I put the Polish article into Google Translate, it seems to suggest rather contradictory accounts of whether the Polish connection is correct, but that is perhaps just because of the poor translation. Since you speak Polish, could you provide a brief summary of the article in English? Cordless Larry (talk) 15:33, 20 March 2011 (UTC)
First of all, the article is not based on this website's own work and informations but is a material purchased from the Polish Press Agency (Polska Agencja Prasowa, PAP), from its science news service called Nauka w Polsce (the Polish Science or Science in Poland literally) - it is mentioned as the source of the article on its bottom. As you know, that's what news agencies do - they sell information and news to other media all over the world. So, the source of the news that Coetzee has Polish roots and he mentioned that during his trip to Poland, is reliable. I googled many other articles on the web, including those published on the websites or online editions of top Polish media, that mention Coetzee's Polish connection and also call up the PAP sources. Here is some: http://ksiazki.wp.pl/tytul,Czy-JM-Coetzee-ma-polskie-korzenie,wid,7535,wiadomosc.html?ticaid=1bfb1&_ticrsn=3 (the article's title means Does Coetzee has Polish roots? and is published on Wirtualna Polska, a major Polish web portal. It is truly a much better and reliable reference than that we talk about. It says that during his trip to Poland in 2006 on the invitation of Znak, his Polish publisher, Coetzee showed the press a letter which he brought to Poland from his family archive and that was wrote by Baltazar Dubiel, his great-grandfather. The letter says that Baltazar Dubiel was a Pole from Czarnylas, a small village in the Greater Poland region (sic! - not Pomerania at all). He (Dubiel) mentions in this letter that he attended a seminary in Odolanów, a small city in the same county as Czarynals, and wanted to become a missionary (maybe that's why he finally settled in South Africa? - that's my part ;-)). But, as the article says, there was no seminary in Odolanów ever, so they (the people who arranged Coetzee's trip from the Znak publishing house and were quoted in the article) thinks Dubiel was writing about a parish school or something he attended. Moreover, after meeting with his readers in Kraków and Warsaw, Coetzee visited (!) the mentioned places - Czarnylas and Odolanów. At the end, there is also a local official from Czarnylas, Czesław Noskowicz, quoted. He said that they (the local government) would search for more information about the Dubiel family and Baltazar Dubiel's life in Poland and even suggested naming the local school after Coetzee. http://www.wprost.pl/ar/140524/Z-ziemi-polskiej-do-Nobla/?O=140524&pg=2 (this is an online version of the article published in Wprost, one of the leading Polish weekly newsmagazines. The article is about Nobel Prize laureates from around the world with Polish roots and connections. Among the mentioned laureates is Coetzee. It also says that the South African writer visited in 2006 Czarnylas and Odolanów, "where his great-grandfather went to school"). From reading the linked articles, we can find that Coetzee's trip to Czarnylas and Odolanów during his visit in Poland was his own initiative and was not arranged by the Znak publishing house which hosted the writer, because the quoted officials of the publisher did not know about the mentioned Dubiel's letter and anything about Coetzee's personal link to Poland before he showed the letter and informed the press. If you don't trust me, please write to another Polish-speaking wikipedians to confirm the meaning of the linked sourcesKowalmistrz (talk) 16:39, 20 March 2011 (UTC)
There are many cases of overly enthusiastic claims regarding the origins of prominent people (and inventions and other stuff). I have not looked at the sources mentioned above, but a title like "Does Coetzee has Polish roots?" does not suggest the kind of verification or significance that would be required to record a fact here. Anyone like Coetzee is likely to have roots in several European countries, and there would need to be an encyclopedic reason to record that his great grandfather was from Poland (where did the other seven great grandparents come from?). Johnuniq (talk) 02:41, 21 March 2011 (UTC)
I think you should read the linked articles and then make your opinion. The article titled "Does Coetzee has Polish roots?" answers the question from its title - yes, Coetzee has Polish roots and he revealed it during his stay in Poland and even showed to the public and the press the letter from his family archive stating the Polish background of Baltazar Dubiel. I did not hear anything about his other ancestors - does the fact that he showed so much interest in his Polish roots mean it is worth to mention? Kowalmistrz (talk) 12:08, 3 May 2011 (UTC)
Please make a proposal. What would suitable text say? There would need to be a reason to say that Coetzee showed an interest in his Polish ancestry. There would also need to be a reason to assert that Coetzee is part Polish in the article because of the issue regarding the other seven great grandparents that I mentioned above (perhaps Coetzee comes from half a dozen different places, and it does not make sense to list them; is there a reliable source suggesting that a particular ancestry influenced his work?). Johnuniq (talk) 12:27, 3 May 2011 (UTC)

Citizenship[edit]

I think the fact that JMC changed his citizenship and residence is important, and worth mentioning in the introduction. Iterator12n Talk 00:13, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

He lived in Africa for many years. Why did he leave? It seems as though he tried to convince the public that Australia's excellence attracted him. It may be possible, however, that there was something about Africa that repelled him.Lestrade (talk) 13:49, 8 January 2008 (UTC)Lestrade
I think that this is now dealt with sufficiently in the article, following some recent editing. Cordless Larry (talk) 15:56, 2 August 2009 (UTC)

References[edit]

The last paragraph of the "Academic and literary career" section of this article reads as follows: 'On 6 March 2006, Coetzee became an Australian citizen. Following the ceremony, Coetzee said that "I was attracted by the free and generous spirit of the people, by the beauty of the land itself and—when I first saw Adelaide—by the grace of the city that I now have the honour of calling my home.' This is then referenced by 16 separate items, the last of which (a review of Diary of a Bad Year) makes no mention of Coetzee's citizenship ceremony. Yes, it compares the novel's main character to Coetzee's citizenship, but that's hardly the same thing.

I have no idea why all these references are here. Reviews of books should be added to the specific book pages rather than cluttering up the main article to no effect. It just looks silly.

Which means you may see some references moving. --Perry Middlemiss (talk) 01:32, 12 February 2009 (UTC)

I noticed this too. I've removed all but the reference supporting the quote. The code for the remainder is listed below in case they can be re-incorporated into the article:
<ref>[http://www.tls.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,25339-2648841,00.html "J. M. Coetzee's ruffled mirrors"]: a review in the [http://www.the-tls.co.uk TLS] by Elizabeth Lowry, 22/08/07</ref><ref>[http://noblit.ru/content/category/4/123/33/ Biography and Photos (Russian)]</ref><ref>[http://nobelprize.org/literature/laureates/2003/ Official 2003 Nobel Laureate Bio]</ref><ref>[http://books.guardian.co.uk/print/0,3858,4815307-99930,00.html J.M. Coetzee's Nobel lecture]</ref><ref>[http://ublib.buffalo.edu/libraries/asl/exhibits/coetzee/coetzee_web.html J.M. Coetzee Online Exhibit, University at Buffalo Libraries]</ref><ref>[http://www.weeklystandard.com/Check.asp?idArticle=3441&r=ivjnl Survey of Coetzee's writings]</ref><ref>[http://www.mostlyfiction.com/world/coetzee.htm Review of the Booker Prize winning Disgrace]</ref><ref>{{contemporary writers|id=108}}</ref><ref>[http://www.vpro.nl/programma/schoonheidentroost/afleveringen/2365352/ Interview in a Dutch television show] (Click on Video, right side)</ref><ref>[http://www.info.gov.za/aboutgovt/orders/2005sept.htm/ South African National Orders]</ref><ref>[http://www.the-ledge.com/flash/ledge.php?book=54&lan=UK Coetzee' Bookweb' on literary website The Ledge, with suggestions for further reading.]</ref><ref>[http://www.stoicfisherman.com/J.htm Review of ''Slow Man'']</ref><ref>"Not a paltry Thing", book review by Marco Roth of Diary of a Bad Year, The New York Sun Dec.12, 2007 p 14</ref><ref>[http://www.geocities.com/keysofworld/coetzee/ Biography and Facts (Spanish)]</ref><ref>[http://www.nybooks.com/articles/20936 Review of ''Diary of a Bad Year''] from ''[[The New York Review of Books]]''</ref>
Cordless Larry (talk) 22:40, 1 August 2009 (UTC)

Summertime[edit]

Does anyone have any further information on the upcoming book Summertime? An IP-address editor has added the book to the "Fictionalised autobiography / autrebiography" section. Amazon UK has no content details other than publisher and publication date, yet "FantasticFiction" refers to it as a novel, as do a few other places. It would be best to put it in its correct section. --Perry Middlemiss (talk) 01:40, 12 February 2009 (UTC)

It now has its own page at Summertime (novel) since it was nominated for the Booker. It seems to be another semi-autobiographical novel. Cordless Larry (talk) 22:43, 1 August 2009 (UTC)

Article consolidation and expansion[edit]

I have just spent considerable time adding references to this article and improving the existing ones by employing citation templates. I now hope to expand the article. In particular, I think it needs a section describing Coetzee's novels and their main themes. I would appreciate help with this if anyone with a better knowledge of literature than me is able to assist. Cordless Larry (talk) 22:14, 2 August 2009 (UTC)

Jewish?[edit]

Is he also jewish? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 50.103.128.158 (talk) 23:06, 5 October 2012 (UTC)

Language[edit]

Language is supposed to a major theme in his works. Have there been any studies on his eccentric personal relationship to language? He won't employ language to communicate with other humans unless it is written.Lestrade (talk) 00:21, 21 January 2013 (UTC)Lestrade